‘Game of Thrones’ Season 7 Premiere Recap: Castle Mania

Price Peterson
Writer

(Photos: HBO)

Warning: This recap for the “Dragonstone” episode of Game of Thrones contains spoilers.

Although Game of Thrones is most likely not based on a true story, sometimes it is the truest story? Watching it can often feel like watching our own home movies, or maybe just staring into a mirror. Who among us hasn’t crossed the threshold to our murdered family’s abandoned castle after a decade of recruiting armies, liberating slaves, doing sex with warlords, and bleaching our roots? And who among us hasn’t ruined a frenemy’s wedding with explosive goo? And who among us isn’t a glowing-eyed ghoul riding a tattered horse across the desolate countryside? At this point, every character on Game of Thrones should be named Me, You, and We. Because the characters are us, and our story is true. And to be quite honest? Game of Thrones is BACK.

We began with a rare pre-credits cold open, in which a character we believed had been killed last season was suddenly cracking open a cold one with the boys.

It was Walder Frey! Back from the dead and ready to party. Or was he?

Oh, it was Arya in disguise! What a rascal. I guess that list of murder targets she’s always reciting had about 30 other names on it that we didn’t ever hear. Still, good to know this tiny teenage lady can so ably impersonate a gravel-voiced, elderly crone-man 8 inches taller than she is. That clearly took skill, so kudos. Anyway, bye forever, House Frey! Also, sorry boutit, House Frey janitors.

In case you were wondering what was up with the White Walkers and their army of wights, they still are not eating right and don’t look very healthy (the horses looked especially ill), but they were still on the way and begging for trouble. And did you know they have GIANT wights now? As much as it puts a pain in my heart to admit, the White Walkers have giant wights now. It feels unfair but it also feels excellent. Things were getting REAL in that snow field.

After Meera and Bran allowed Hodor to kill himself for them, I guess they successfully outraced the White Walkers and escaped into the hinterlands. And now here they were, begging to crash at Castle Black. Fortunately Bran didn’t even have to get up out of his fur cocoon; the Night’s Watchmen heard the name “Stark” and were BOUT IT. “Get in here, snowbabies.”

Meanwhile at Winterfell, it was a real snoozefest. I don’t know how much time has passed since we were last with these bozos, but they’re still all just sitting around wondering what to do next, who’s in charge, who owes whom an apology for treason. Jon Snow was doing his thing and being like “Bygones, brosephs” and Sansa was like, “Trifling bitches lie down in graves pls.” In other words they disagreed about what to do about the houses that had forsaken them in favor of Ramsay Bolton. But they DID agree that forcing literal children to swear oaths of allegiance to House Stark was a good use of everybody’s time.

Lyanna of Bear Island was, once again, the only interesting and competent person in the room. She was basically like, “Relax jerks, let’s just pinkie-swear to be cool and get some s*** done.” But Jon Snow and Sansa were already gazing dreamily into each other’s eyes. Because quasi-incest slashfic gotta quasi-incest slashfic. Enjoy!

Cersei’s mourning period mostly entailed drinking wine and overseeing the painting of an elaborate map in the courtyard patio. Why? So that she could more easily twirl around in a black dress praying for her haters. For his part, Jaime Lannister did not seem overly mad at Cersei for bombing her own city and causing their son to commit suicide. I guess when you’ve got a crush on someone you’ll overlook a lot.

Jaime’s main thing was, the Lannisters no longer had any allies and were likely to starve to death as soon as winter arrived. (Cersei was too busy sending Hater Ravens to all the other Houses to check her own Raven mail, or else they’d know there were far worse things on the way than famine.) To that end, Euron Greyjoy arrived and promised to be her ally in the coming war in exchange for her hand in marriage. Obviously this was a steamy proposition, and obviously it was also ludicrous.

That being said, Euron heavily hinted that he would bring back Tyrion’s head in order to impress her, and this earned him a cocked eyebrow at the very least. Try it, guy.

Sam’s internship at the library was not going well, mostly on account of the many millions of diarrhea-filled bedpans he’d been forced to stare into, while not staring into the diarrhea-looking MEALS he was supposed to be eating. To be fair, working at a modern day library would involve the same amount of brown fluids, but at least the books aren’t locked away. Sam had to steal keys from a diarrhetic old man in order to do a little light reading about the realms! Ugh, internships.

At the Citadel, Sam fell under the tutelage of Jim Broadbent (as himself) whose job it was to disembowel corpses and also express warmth and encouragement to Sam in his quest to spread the word about the White Walkers. Sometimes it’s just nice to feel supported, even when the supportive hands are coated in corpse bile.

Tormund still has a MAJOR hard-spot for Brienne, but she’s just not that into gingers, I suppose. Trust me, it happens.

Truly can’t explain the distracting and borderline disappointing Ed Sheeran cameo. Yes, Game of Thrones employs every living British actor, but it still feels like a closed world where pop culture can’t intrude. Yet here’s a very famous pop star singing around the campfire for no reason. I’ve heard Sheeran was only on because the showrunners wanted to surprise Maisie Williams with a scene with her favorite singer. So what happens if, like, Kit Harington’s favorite band is Nickelback? What THEN? Anyway, Ed Sheeran and Arya ate a dead cat and talked about life. Just a classic Game of Thrones moment.

The Hound had been journeying around the countryside with his Lord of Light crew and still seemed on the fence about all this magic hoo-ha, but the guy with the topknot told the Hound to stare into a fire for a bit, and it happened: The Hound had a vision of White Walkers and, like, mountains or whatever. The Hound was now SOLD. Also they came upon a couple of corpses that the Hound had left to die a few seasons back, so he buried them and now he feels better about it. Redemption!

If you were wondering whatever happened to Ser Jorah, he apparently ended up locked away at the Citadel turning ever stonier in his loneliness. His main question for Sam was whether Daenerys had returned to Westeros yet. Hold your horses, stoney! That was the next scene.

Please do not ask which characters in the above picture are standing and which are sitting, because that would be rude and hurtful on your part. That being said, here is a hashtag squad goals boat! Look at these cuties in their matching black pleather, like a fantasy cosplay Matrix type jam. Daenerys and her team were back in Westeros and headed straight for the craggiest abandoned castle we’ve seen yet!

It was Daenerys’ childhood home! The one Stannis Baratheon had been squatting in a few seasons back. It was now perfectly deserted, not even a single hobo had taken up residence here. But more importantly, Daenerys now had a home base within striking distance of Cersei Lannister and the rest of the people she seeks to overthrow. Girl’s has had quite a journey, so it’s extremely nice to see her reclaim her family’s origins. Just wait until she finds out the castle is built upon a mountain of Dragonglass! Man, that castle’s resale value just went through the roof.

“Dragonstone” was not a “holy F!” kind of season premiere. It was more of a “Huh, yeah that seems reasonable” kind of season premiere. In other words, nothing too shocking, but everything still entertaining. Mostly because of how relatable everyone is, and how closely their stories reflect our lives, this is just a good crop of characters and it’s a pleasure to see everyone in action again. There are only 12 episodes left in total, but we will cry about that another day. Until then, welcome back, you rascal.

What did YOU think of “Dragonstone”?

Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.

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